Updated: Oct 14
By Nile Fortner
Ever since the unexpected death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year old daughter Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, fathers across the globe have and continue to still tribute Kobe Bryant by celebrating their relationships with their daughters.
Throughout social media platforms, men are posting photographs of themselves with their daughters and using #girldad as a way of remembering the 41-year old basketball player and by posting their positive relationships with their little girls.
The hashtag has been used more than 753,000 times, and that’s just on Instagram alone.
As Bryant once said, "I would have five more girls if I could. I'm a girl dad."
Bryant was the father of four girls, and the trend started after ESPN's Elle Duncan shared a tribute and emotional story as she anchored ‘SportsCenter’ about how Bryant was a loving and proud father to his daughters. Bryant’s words and athletic abilities inspired other daddy-daughter duos such as Philip Snyder and his seven-year-old daughter, Harper Snyder. Harper, who is a student at Heron Heights Elementary, is an athlete and her birthday was soon after Bryant’s passing. This inspired Philip to use the hashtag.
“I use the hashtag a lot actually,” said Philip. “Every time we do a big game together or something, I use the hashtag girl dad. I have a little best friend that I’m going to do activities with.”
Philip and Harper Snyder do all sorts of activities and traditions together like going camping twice a year and they also go skiing once a year. Philip and Harper Snyder have lots of memories together and memories in the making. One of them being when Harper was four-years-old, it was the first time they went camping together and Philip had to help Harper up to pee over the toilet.
“My first memory was when she was born,” said Philip. “She came into the world wide eyes and ready to take on the world and ready to go. She was my friend from the moment she was born.”
Philip also coaches Harper’s basketball and football team. Philip describes Harper as being athletic and wanting to win. However, the young lady is empathetic, sweet, and shows sportsmanship to kids of all ages.
“She’s a better athlete than I am,” said Philip. “People always laugh because I’m always with my daughter. But were pretty much carbon copies. She’s my buddy. I have a 3-year old son now. So I can’t call her my best friend as much. But the foundation for family is strong.”
Firefighter and daddy of two, Jason Hickman, hasn’t used the trending hashtag just yet. However, his love for his daughters, 10-year-old Riley and 13-year-old Ava Hickman, goes beyond just the hashtag.
“Watching them grow up and live life,” said Jason. “Those are the best memories anyone can ask for.”
Jason enjoys going on vacations with his family. Such as going to a lake or enjoying the local Fort Lauderdale beaches and seeing how the afternoon sun seems to scatter diamonds across the surface of the sea. On weekends when Jason is off from work, he makes breakfast for his daughters. Jason has described his older one as being quieter, while the younger one is more outgoing and social.
“It’s a very good balance between the two,” said Jason.
Every family goes through hardships and recently, Jason’s brother-in-law passed away. Jason mentioned it has been tough on the family. But it also gave them a new appreciation for life and being thankful for spending time with family.
“I know in time my relationship will change once they get older,” said Jason. “I hope it doesn’t change too much. But I still want them to love and respect me. I mean, 90 percent of the time they’re amazing.”
According to an interview at ‘Vox’ with CEO of the anti-violence organization ‘A Call to Men’, Tony Porter, “For some men, “the whole notion of having a son is sometimes to live vicariously through him or to raise him in your likeness.”
That can lead to some dads “feeling a great disappointment that they don’t have sons.”
Men sharing their pride in their daughters can show a different perspective. Some believe that encouraging men to take pride in their daughters can also help promote greater gender equality.
“A lot of dads don’t realize that you can spend so much quality time with just your daughter alone,” said Kevin Tacher. “This program gives a lot of one-to-one time building a dad-daughter relationship that’s much stronger if they weren’t in this type of program.”
Kevin Tacher has been involved with the Indian Princess program for six years and his 16-year-old daughter, Lindsay Tacher, got into it at seven-years-old. With 486 members, the Indian Princess Seminole Nation program serves all cities near the northern quarter of Broward County, Florida. The program gives girls a strong sense of accomplishment and self-worth.
Volunteer fathers such as Kevin, believe the camping like program brings fathers and daughters closer together and forms stronger relationships.
“It’s like boy scouts for dads and daughters,” said Kevin. “It’s a great bonding program for dads and daughters and to give the moms a break on the weekends.”
Kevin and Lindsay Tacher have meaningful memories together such as in July of 2015 sleeping under the space shuttle at Kennedy Space Center and going scuba diving together. Kevin realizes the importance of being a girl dad and he realizes fathers have to start from now to have lasting relationships with their kids.
“A lot of times dads are working all day and don’t take much of an active role,” said Kevin. “So with the program, if it’s once or twice a month for the weekend, you’re able to be with your daughter and it beats just being at home with them. The program will give you a much better relationship with your children and form that type of bond that’s long term.”
Efforts like the #girldad hashtag and simply being with your daughter can help men see the importance of creating all the same opportunities and acknowledgments for their daughters they would create for their sons.
“Some parents even double dip with the Indian Guides program because they have sons and daughters that can be in both programs,” said Kevin. “We all have a lot to offer and they’re all great dads. It’s all about spending quality time with our children.”